Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Taylor Swift's Latest Video, and the Myth of Cultural Appropriation

Taylor Swift's latest video, for the new track Shake It Off, has arrived, and predictably everyone's talking about it. Some like it, some don't, and personally I am undecided. I do think it's one of the better mainstream music videos this year, but I have come to expect so much of Taylor that I am a bit disappointed.

But a troubling aspect of the recent criticism is that around 'cultural appropriation'. I know this will be controversial, but I have to say this: I believe there is nothing wrong with so-called cultural appropriation, and it happens all the time. It happens when white people celebrate the Lunar New Year, for example. It also happens when non-Christians celebrate Christmas. You can even say it happens when straight people go to gay pride. In fact, it's called borrowing from other cultures. And we do it because it's fun and enriching. As long as everyone remains respectful, there's nothing wrong with it. (And I think it's clear that Taylor was very respectful in the video.)

Propagating the myth of 'cultural appropriation' leads to cultural racial segregation. I don't think segregation is good for anyone. It also leads to a heightened awareness of race and racial boundaries in society, which may be cause for racial tension. Again, this would be very unhealthy. Therefore, I urge everyone to let go of this myth.

Taylor Swift and the Ferguson Protests

There's no relationship between Taylor Swift and the protests in Ferguson. Except when some people think there is.

Apparently, for some people, releasing a cheerful song when there is a tragedy is 'insensitive'. Since record company releases are usually scheduled, I guess every artist risks being insensitive 'lucky draw' style, then.

Some have said they thought it was insensitive because of the twerking and hip hop elements in the video. But again, as these elements were not done disrespectfully, I just cannot see the insensitivity in there.

My conclusion: there's absolutely no relationship between Taylor Swift and the protests in Ferguson. Case closed.